I spent a long summer in the wilderness. Yes, we did go to the mountains in Colorado for a while where this uber-stylish photo was taken. But, the wilderness I’m referring to is of a spiritual nature, not our summer vacay.
For those of you who have spent time in the wilderness, you know what I’m talking about. If you are unsure or just need a refresher on what a Biblical wilderness is, please listen to this Lamplighters Women’s Bible Study lecture. Click on this link and download the lecture under Lesson 1. The context is Mark 1:1-13. John the Baptist has just emerged from the desert as the forerunner of Christ after 400 years of God’s silence which is followed by Jesus’ baptism and his immediate departure into the wilderness.
My summer in the wilderness began about the time I started reading the Bible in 90 Days. Many of you will remember, I read the Bible last summer with the Bible in 90 Days program. It was unbelievable. I loved reading every word and truly couldn’t put the Bible down somedays. Stories were coming alive for me and things I had learned as a child began to make sense and oh – I just wanted everyone I know to read the Bible too. Y’all know. If you are reading this, chances are I
bugged encouraged you to read too.
The first time reading the Bible was a mountain top experience. The second time? Not so much. Reading all of God’s word twice in less than a year doesn’t come without some serious….what? I don’t even know the word for it. Price? Consequences? Discoveries? Transformation? Suffice it to say, chewing, savoring, ingesting, meditating on God’s divine word launched me straight into the wilderness. And I’m not out yet…
My experience has been scary, challenging, intense, uncomfortable and yet the entire time I’ve been blanketed in peace and joy. I know I’m smack dab in the middle of God’s will, being tested and pruned and prepared. Ok. So I realize this may sound bizarro and I’m talking mumbo jumbo. Perhaps I can be a little more clear.
God sent me into the wilderness to remind me of my identity in Christ.
How do I know this? Because He sent me a road map. Literally. Wanna know the funny part? I almost missed it.
Several weeks ago, I spent 24 hours surrounded by sweet sisters and friends at our Lamplighters Leader’s Retreat. One of my favorite hats to wear in life, is administrator for Lamplighters. It fills my cup beyond belief and I get to do really important things like push buttons to change the slides on the big screen during our morning hymns. Trust me, this is more difficult than it sounds. Anyway, as administrator, I was naturally doing administrative things during our retreat.
Our speaker for the weekend retreat, Dr. Marnie Crumpler of Peachtree Presbyterian in Atlanta, walked us through a simple, but profound exercise. Marnie sent me the handouts and documents prior to the retreat, so I had a heads up of what was coming and did my administrative duties of gathering supplies for the session. In one of my finer Martha of Bethany moments (trust me there are plenty!) I was so concerned with getting the card stock and markers distributed to our group that it never occurred to me to sit down and participate myself. Thank God, seriously thank you Lord, that our dear pastor motioned to me to come sit in the empty chair next to her.
The exercise was to draw a road map of your life, specifically highlighting the intersections where you encountered Jesus. I had no idea that day, as I played cartographer with blue and pink markers, that God had just handed me my road map.
Sometimes you have to go backwards in order to move forward.
My intent is to share my road map with you. And I will post the simple exercise so you, too, can create a road map. It’s call My Life is Gospel. You’ll need some markers, a blank piece of paper, and an open heart to receive the gift. Gather your stuff, and I’ll post the instructions on Wednesday.